June 6, 2021
The California Air Resources Board unanimously approved the Community Emissions Reduction Program (CERP) for Southeast Los Angeles as mandated under Assembly Bill 617 as announced on May 21.
Thousands of residents living in disadvantaged neighborhoods in southeast Los Angeles bear the brunt of high levels of air pollution from sources such as metal processing and rendering facilities, railyards and heavy duty vehicle traffic. These residents will help set priorities to ensure they benefit under the new program to achieve cleaner air. AB 617 requires community-driven action to identify, monitor and reduce air pollutants of specific concern to the local population.
“For decades, these neighborhoods have endured breathing some of the most polluted air in the country due to emissions from the railyards and industrial facilities that surround them,” said Chanell Fletcher, CARB’s Deputy Executive Officer for Environmental Justice and Equity. “The level of community involvement and cooperation achieved in developing the CERP will mark a new chapter to achieve cleaner air for residents.”
The Community Emissions Reduction Program was developed through a partnership between the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the community steering committee, which include community residents, local businesses and other stakeholders to develop the specific emission reduction strategies.
One of the goals under the CERP is to establish a Community Pollution Enforcement Workgroup that will focus on heavy duty vehicle pollution, and work on a catalytic converter theft deterrence and education program. It also calls for focused enforcement at area railyards. Additional actions include South Coast Air Quality Management District rule development to address best management practices at metal recycling plants to reduce fugitive emissions, and work with the steering committee to prioritize schools for air filtration systems. Actions recommended by CARB staff to strengthen implementation include enforcement activities for community concerns, incentives prioritization activities and improved access to online data.
The Board has instructed CARB staff, the Air District and the community steering committee to work together to strengthen implementation based on the recommended actions and directed the Air District to include progress updates on identified actions in annual reports.
Community Air Protection Program
To address the requirements of AB 617 (C. Garcia, 2017) CARB created the Office of Community Air Protection (OCAP) to ensure the reduction of exposure and emissions of criteria air pollutants and toxic air contaminants in the most vulnerable areas of the state. OCAP community liaisons participate in the community steering committees, and provide guidance in the development of the community emissions reduction programs. OCAP and other CARB programs develop online tools to make data more accessible and useful in informing CERP decision-making.
Regional and Statewide Efforts
Generally, reduction strategies in community emissions reduction programs throughout the state target emissions for pollutants of concern and from sources of concern that are identified in collaboration with community residents. Successful implementation of the strategies requires strong partnership within the community steering committee and focused coordination between CARB, the local air district, and state and local land use and transportation agencies. CARB has identified emissions and exposure reduction approaches that all community emissions reduction programs should draw from to ensure a comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of potential reductions strategies, including regulations, enforcement, incentives, and mitigation strategies. “South Coast’s recent adoption of an indirect source rule to address the impacts of warehouses is a creative use of regulatory authority and will improve air quality in communities throughout the air basin,” said Deldi Reyes, CARB’s Director of the Office of Community Air Protection.
CARB continues its statewide efforts to achieve emissions reductions in all communities disproportionately impacted by poor air quality.